But that theory was dismissed just days later when the Angels’ crosstown rival, the Los Angeles Dodgers, swooped in and signed Pujols to a one-year deal.
BREAKING: The Dodgers and future Hall of Famer Albert Pujols are in agreement on a major-league deal for the remainder of the season, per source.
— Jorge Castillo (@jorgecastillo) May 15, 2021
Since joining the Dodgers, Pujols has found new life.
Strangely, getting released by the Angels was the best thing that could have happened to him.
He’s Clearly Energized By Playing For A Contender
Before joining the Dodgers, Pujols spent five consecutive seasons playing for non-contending Angels teams.
From 2016 to 2020, the Angels didn’t have a single winning season.
For a player who was part of a perennial winner (the St. Louis Cardinals) throughout the early stages of his career, it had to be agonizing for the veteran to be a part of so many consecutive losing campaigns.
Once you’re on the wrong side of 40 years old, how are you supposed to get motivated to play for a lousy team?
For most of the all-time greats, winning is everything.
With that in mind, it’s no surprise that Pujols has found new life playing for a winning team in the Dodgers.
After registering an OPS+ below 100 in 2017, 2018, 2019, 2020, and 2021 (before being released by the Angels), he has managed to post a 105 OPS+ so far with the Dodgers.
That’s an entirely serviceable mark.
He has delivered some massive hits in pinch-hitting situations for the Dodgers this year, and he has also been outstanding against left-handed pitching.
The Dodgers have won 4 of their last 5 extra-inning games after starting the season 1-12 in extra-inning games.
Albert Pujols, who is hitting .394 (13-33) as a pinch-hitter this season, provided the go-ahead RBI in the 10th. pic.twitter.com/qsnXRgAzEB
— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) September 22, 2021
Pujols being with the Dodgers isn’t just some feel-good story where he’s riding the bench but making an impact in the locker room.
Rather, he’s legitimately making his presence felt as a hitter.
He clearly wants to help this team make a title run.
He has been a major asset to the club since coming over from Anaheim.
If This Is Pujols’ Final Season, He’s Going To Get A Chance To Go Out With A Bang
The Angels released Pujols in the final year of his massive contract.
Before the 2021 season started, fans were speculating about this being the final year of his career.
It still might be, but now, he’s getting a chance to go out with a bang.
Had Pujols stayed with the Angels, he would have spent potentially his final MLB season playing meaningless baseball.
Instead, he’s going to get a chance to cap his career off with a World Series title with the Dodgers.
Pujols already has two World Series titles to his name, but he hasn’t won one in roughly a decade.
The three-time MVP surely would love to accomplish the feeling of winning it all one last time.
For a player who has had a legendary career, there would be no better way for it to end than by winning a championship.
The Dodgers are in a great position to potentially do so.
Although they might have to survive the NL Wild Card game to open the postseason, L.A. is going to be an extremely tough out in October.
The team’s roster is loaded with talent, and a World Series title is an extremely real possibility.